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CASE STUDY 23


clear how they would behave once re- erected,” said Shearer. Argent was devoted to the conservation of the heritage aspects at King’s Cross, and it was “through the close collaboration with Arup and the specialist contractor team [Shepley Engineering and Craddy] that it was possible to map out a strategy for their restoration and re-erection.”


The height of the blocks was subject to tight planning restrictions, which, among other design constraints, helped the archi- tects arrive at the form of the buildings. According to Buck, a “key challenge” was the integration of accessible roof gardens and the atrium ‘canopy glazing’ within these restrictions. To minimise the overall height, plant rooms were positioned in the basement to allow maximum space on rooftops, and the glazed atrium roofs have multiple pitches. “This presented challenges in weather- proofing, including opening natural ventilation and smoke clearance elements, as well as to drainage of rain water off the roof lights and their maintenance, which required that the glass be walkable.”


GEOMETRY “On plan,” Arup’s Shearer told Housebuilder and Developer, “WilkinsonEyre’s analogy of a timepiece has a strong relevance to both the overall form of the project and the sophisticated inter-relationship of its component parts.” The geometry of the Triplet’s frames - three circles meeting tangentially around a common central axis, is augmented by a ‘court circle’ extruded at the axis, creating a central courtyard, where, said Shearer, “the drama of the converging frames and delicate steel walkways” is revealed. The ‘drums’ each contain a central circular atrium, around which gallery walkways provide access to the front doors of the apartments.


The circular courtyard where the frames


converge in a complex geometry of ironwork is the centrepiece. To provide access from the residences between the three buildings and to the rooftop terraces, two walkway bridges were introduced at the fifth and eighth floors. “These were envisaged to be lightweight and sleek,” explained Shearer, “so as to complement rather than detract from the gasholder guide frames.”


Making use of the circular geometry, it was possible to design these walkways to be supported solely by a series of slender diagonal legs. Because these form continu- ous, uninterrupted circles, the tendency for the deck to tip over into the atrium is resis- ted by the equal and opposite action of the deck on the opposite side of the courtyard. Shearer explored the “purity” of the structural solution: “The slender structures


of the steel bridges play counter melody to the heavier ironwork of the gasholder frames, and the cantilevered laminated glass balustrades are tastefully minimalistic in detail, ensuring that the intended slenderness is unaffected.”


The geometry of the guide frames posed a significant constraint on the coordination of the apartments and other spaces within the buildings. Shearer explained: “The design of a primary concrete frame had to respond accordingly, and the successful delivery of an efficient layout required careful integration from the start. Early decision-making was key.”


Detailed studies of the floor plates justi- fied ambitious minimum structural depths, set storey heights, and enabled early appre- hension of an “efficient, yet flexible” structural diagram. These allowed the architect to proceed with extensive massing studies to achieve the right unit mix. “The result was three lean concrete


frames, optimised for maximum internal space, on a grid accommodating a large variety of non-stacking apartment layouts and basement parking.”


Apartments are accessed via the gallery walkways around central atria within each block. Ranging the apartments around the outer perimeter maximises balcony space and views out for the residents. “The apartments are wider on the outer perimeters and narrower towards the centres of the buildings, but the overall diameters are large enough that this effect is subtle and seems to enhance the light- ness of the living rooms and other rooms against the outer facade.” The apartments themselves have been


internally designed to the meticulous vision of Johathan Tuckey Design, and “strike a perfect balance of subtlety and modern elegance,” said the firm. Tuckey himself commented: “I’ve always been interested in how buildings can change from one thing to another, and the Gasholders is a brilliant example of what’s possible.” He continued: “I see our work as mediating between what the existing building wants and what the person who lives in it needs. The thing that’s most important though, is that these apartments are really beautiful homes.”


FACADE


The curved geometry of the facade, combined with the need to install, while the gas holder guide frames were being re- erected, and the consequent constraints on access, all played into the design of the cladding system. Buck commented: “Arup facade engineers proposed a unitised cladding system whereby facade and balconies, assembled offsite, would be lifted into place, minimising external access require- ments and thus limiting the impact on the


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The three cylindrical apartment blocks are connected by an open courtyard


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